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Another Year Over.

I’m not sure what your house is like this week, but mine has been filled with family and desserts and presents and keeping little boys busy.  It’s been a week of rest and celebration.  We’ve taken a deep breath, we’ve done some fun stuff as a family, and we are closing out 2023 being thankful for so many things.

Another year over and a new one just about to begin.

This past week we were moving a piece of furniture back to it’s normal spot after juggling furniture to make room for additional family members and in the moving of the chair I wasn’t paying attention and bumped the Christmas tree.  As we are now a month in to having this dead tree in our living room, the branches are starting to sag and the ornaments are weighing them down.  My minor collision with the tree and chair caused the sound of thin delicate glass shattering on our hard floor.

In years past our tree has been filled with every ornament we’ve ever had…but it had gotten to be too much, so this year we only put up the ones that meant something special to us.  As soon as I heard that glass break, I instantly regretted my bold and brash decision to move the furniture myself because I knew it was an ornament that was special to us.  I looked down to see the broken shards of glass and saw that it was an ornament the boys had made as babies.  It was a clear glass ornament with their fingerprints dipped in paint and pressed on the glass.  Sarah had then taken the fingerprints and added things to them to be snowmen and reindeer and other Christmas images.

Those finger prints at that time will never exist again.

Those creations cannot be fully recreated.

Like a snowflake that is beautifully unique and can never be recreated once it is destroyed, this ornament is the same.

Gone in a moment.

I felt my stomach sink.

I apologized profusely as the broken glass was cleaned up.

As I dwelled upon this error then…and honestly still am fretting about it now…I was frustrated at my poor decision to do this on my own and the repercussions of my carelessness.

Then, a few minutes later, one of my sons came in and said,

“Dad, nobody is around to play with me, will you go on a bike ride with me?”

“Of course buddy.  I’ll be right out.”

That ornament cannot be replaced.

I can’t go back and change time.

But I can live differently now.

I could lose sleep over an ornament, a thing, made by my kid a decade ago or I can be active in my kids life now.

What’s more important; people or things?

There is almost nothing you can do to change the past.  Unless you have a DeLorean, a flux capacitor, 1.21 gigawatts, and enough road to go 88 miles per hour.

And I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen any time travel movies…it rarely goes well.

So, as we look back on 2023, the faults and failures that may have been at your hand, the successes and joys, you cannot change those, but you can live differently moving forward.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when the woman gets dragged in front of the fancy religious elites and they want to kill her for her adulterous behavior.  There are so many problems with this situation…like where is the guy, why is this the priority of the moment and more…

But no matter…after Jesus reminds the religious elite who are ready to have her stoned that they are free to murder her, but the one who is without sin can cast the first stone.

They drop their stones and walk away.

Jesus then looks at her and reminds her that there is no one there to condemn her.  And then he says,

“and neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  

She couldn’t change her past and Jesus didn’t condemn her for her past actions.  While at the same time she can change the way she lives moving forward.

We cannot change our past.

Only God can.

But we can live differently now and in the future.

No matter if 2023 was a huge success or a massive failure.

No matter if you could not be more proud of the past year or if you are ashamed of how it played out.

No matter if you took huge steps in the right direction and grew as a person and a follower of Jesus or if you wandered in a direction that makes you not able to look certain people in the eyes.

You cannot change that, but you can live differently.

A new year is a new opportunity to be reminded of the grace of God, the truth of Jesus’ words, and the comfort of the Spirit.

Your past is your past and it doesn’t have to define or destroy you.

The amazing work of God is redemptive, restorative, and renewing.

And that is good news for you and me.

You likely didn’t break a priceless ornament your kid made…but I’m sure there are things you kick yourself about in the past 12 months.  No worries.  2023 is almost gone.  Your past can’t be changed.  But your present and your future can.

Where is 2023 to condemn you?

It’s not here anymore.

Jesus doesn’t condemn you either.

Go and live differently in 2024.

I hope you will join us on Sunday as we close out 2023 and look forward to 2024.

It will be our normal worship service and time.  10am at The Chapel.  If you are traveling, you can join us online through our website, or from our Facebook page,  If you have family or friends in town, please know, everyone is always welcome all the time.

You can also listen to our sermons most places where podcasts are available; Apple, Spotify, and more.

If you are wanting to make year end gifts for 2023, please make sure you give those either at worship on Sunday or give online through our giving portal by Sunday, December 31st.

If you are curious about all the different partners we work with to proclaim the good news of Jesus through word and action, check out our giving page.

Please let us know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

May you have a beautiful New Year.